Safe and Legal Massachusetts Gambling Options
As of this time, MA sports gambling is only available in-person. Bets can be placed at MGM Springfield, Encore Boston Harbor, and Plainridge Park Casino. MA mobile sports betting apps could launch in late February or early March.
In addition to sports betting, there are some other gaming options out there for Massachusetts residents to enjoy. A few specific avenues for placing a bet, such as daily fantasy sports (DFS) and online horse betting, have been clarified as legal under Massachusetts law for several years.
In terms of Massachusetts online gambling, activities such as online slots and table games are unregulated and not permitted at this time. Any online casino, poker site, or sportsbook that accepts Bay Staters right now is operating illegally in the state and is actually based offshore. These sites come with many risks, and you should be sure to avoid them for multiple reasons:
- Transparency: With these sites, you cannot be sure about the motivations and impartiality of the site you choose. Remember — you will have to surrender your personal ID and banking data in order to play.
- Protection: If you go offshore to gamble, a site might run a crooked game or refuse to honor your withdrawal requests, and there would be little you can do about it. These sites are not beholden to the US legal system or a US regulator and are not bound, necessarily, to the same level of ethical standards. This makes them especially risky to use.
- Security: You are putting your personal information in transit to servers thousands of miles away, and there are plenty of opportunities for hackers and other criminals to attempt an interception along the way.
Finding a Legitimate Massachusetts Betting Site
When it comes to Massachusetts online gambling, there are many ways in which you can tell the difference between a legal gambling site and an illegal offshore gambling site. For the time being, it’s pretty easy. In Massachusetts, if a site is offering online casino games, online poker, or online sports betting, then it’s offshore. Those three activities are not legal in Massachusetts at this time. Retail sports betting is legal, but licensed mobile sportsbooks have yet to launch. Licensed and registered sportsbooks such as DraftKings and FanDuel have much more security and are regulated by multiple governing bodies to ensure they are safe to use.
For now, you’ll need to be able to differentiate the legitimate sites from the illegitimate ones. There are four things you can do to confirm a site’s legitimacy.
- Look for some sort of mention of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC). Any legitimate site will have to answer to Mass Gaming — there’s no two ways about it. You can also look for the commission logo, which you can see an example of on the right. Illegal and offshore gaming sites do not have to answer to any sort of regulating body, which makes them extremely risky.
- There should be a US-based address in the site’s contact details. Preferably, the address is inside Massachusetts, but anywhere in the US is fine. This requirement is evidence of a company’s adherence to US laws, as well as its obligations under the appropriate regulatory bodies.
- Check the Massachusetts Gaming Commission website. Regulation is a two-way street, and while legitimate sites are going to mention the MGC, you can be sure that the MGC is going to mention the sites that it monitors.
- Contact Mass Gaming directly. You can either use a response form or scroll down to the bottom of the page for the phone number and email address. Either way, the commission is going to know who can offer online gambling in the state and who cannot. You may not need to take this particular step, but if you want to be absolutely sure, reach out to the regulators to find out if a site’s for real and truly legit.
Latest Massachusetts Sports Betting Updates
Like many states, Massachusetts has a history with legal gambling that stretches back for decades. Massachusetts sports betting legislation has been in the works only in recent years. Here are some of the more recent relevant dates for the history of gambling in Massachusetts:
Last year, the Massachusetts Senate passes an amended H3993 and sets up negotiations with the state House to reach an agreed upon bill. On Aug. 1, both the House and Senate pass a compromise sports betting bill that was sent to Gov. Baker for his signature.
Later in August, Gov. Baker signed the Massachusetts sports betting bill into law. A tentative time frame for the MA sports betting launch was announced in the fall. The plan expected MA retail sports betting to start as soon as January 2023, with MA mobile betting apps following in late February or early March.
In December, the MGC granted the state’s first sports betting license to Encore Boston Harbor Casino. Shortly after, the first mobile license was granted to WynnBET. Several other platforms have been granted licenses since then, and more are expected to join the ranks.
In early January, legal retail sports betting officially started at three Massachusetts casinos on January 31 at 10 a.m.